Snacking at work: How to achieve the maximum benefit

Research shows that healthy snacking can increase focus, curb appetite, control weight gain and improve overall health.

A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study showed that 90 percent of American’s consume snacks throughout the day. Due to much of an adult’s day being spent at work, most snacking occurs during work hours. Meetings, parties, stress and boredom; it all contributes to added calories throughout the day. Research shows that healthy snacking can increase focus, curb appetite, control weight gain and improve overall health. However, traditional snack foods are high in sodium, fat and calories, are easy convenience foods and can actually hinder weight loss, cause drowsiness and contribute to excess calories throughout the day. Michigan State University Extension recommends evaluating your snack foods to ensure you are achieving the maximum benefit.

Before you grab a bag of chips ask yourself: Am I hungry? A study posted in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics showed the most common reasons for snacking include time of day, habit, external eating, emotional eating and for social reasons. If you find yourself falling into one of these categories try using other tactics to fulfill that emotion. Taking a walk with coworkers can not only burn calories you would have normally been consuming, but can also improve focus when you return to your desk. If you are hungry, be mindful of your snack. Keep high fat, high calorie options out of sight to remove the temptation. Replace them with healthy options that can easily be grabbed. Take the time to step away from your work to allow your brain to savor the snack and prevent yourself from over eating.

Healthy snacking can be a great way to sneak in nutrients that can be missed during meal times. Try consuming snack foods from more than one food group to consume a wider variety of nutrients. Including fiber and protein with your snack can help you stay full for longer and will reduce the temptation of continuing to snack. Try keeping some of these easy and healthy snacks around the office to support healthy eating:

  • Low-fat plain yogurt with your own fruit added
  • Whole wheat crackers and peanut butter
  • Vegetables with hummus dip
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Fresh fruit and a cheese stick or cottage cheese

Snacking at work can have many benefits, including increased focus and aiding in weight loss, but only if done in moderation. Keep healthy snacks readily available and traditional high fat, high sodium and high fat options out of sight.

MSU Extension offers classes, webinars, and resources on worksite wellness. For more information on keeping your workplace healthy visit http://www.msue.msu.edu or to contact an expert in your area visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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